Plan to fully implement mobile device management system halted indefinitelyThe prime minister instructed the finance minister not to implement the decision amid public criticism.
The nation’s telecommunications regulator—Nepal Telecommunications Authority on Friday halted the full implementation of the mobile device management system following Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal's order not to implement the system immediately.
Dahal moved to instruct the Finance Minister not to implement the decision amid public criticism as the policy bars a Nepali citizen from bringing more than two mobile sets from abroad.
Nepali migrant workers abroad launched a ‘no remittance’ campaign on social media, stating they will stop sending remittances to Nepal.
The Finance Ministry had decided to levy an 18 percent customs duty if a returnee is found to have brought more than one handheld device from abroad.
Surya Kiran Sharma, media coordinator to the prime minister told the Post, that the prime minister directed Finance Minister Bishnu Poudel not to implement the decision immediately,
Following the development, Nepal Telecommunications Authority issued a notice that the plan has been suspended for the time being. “We will make an appropriate decision after assessing the situation,” the authority said in a notice.
On December 24, issuing a notice, the regulator requested that mobile phone users who brought their handheld devices from abroad for personal use before mid-August this year should update their operating system by taking an invoice from the customs office.
The mobile sets need to complete the customs declaration as per the Customs Act, 2007.
“The sets not declared in customs, according to the rules, will not be registered from December 30. And this type of mobile set will stop operating,” according to the notice.
The telecom regulator moved to develop the system four years ago after the Mobile Device Management System Bylaws 2018 were issued.
The authority introduced the system to discourage illegal imports, sale and distribution of mobile sets and to track and block mobile phones in cases of theft and loss.
The Mobile Device Management System will bring smartphones under the registration net, making it easier for authorities to monitor them, according to the Nepal Telecommunications Authority.
According to the Department of Customs, the import of smartphones declined by 51.21 percent to Rs11.2 billion through imports of 803,818 mobile sets in the first five months of the current fiscal year.
The decline in the import of smartphones by more than half is mainly due to the government restricting the import of mobile phones costing over $600 from April and more than $300 from July. The government lifted the ban in December.
Smartphones are mainly imported from China and India.
The system will be synced to a database called Equipment Identity Register, which contains records of legal and illegal mobile devices in the country.
The device management system is also expected to identify cloned, low-cost copy versions of branded phones with fake registration numbers.